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Studio Essentials

Studio Essentials: Bruno Pronsato

Berlin-based Steven Ford guides us through the essentials that make his studio such a fruitful outlet.

A wise man once said that there are many paths to the top of the mountain; in the case of Steven Ford (a.k.a. Bruno Pronsato), one of the most revered voices in minimal house music, speed metal drumming was a fairly unique entry point. Having played for a band in Texas for years, Ford moved to Seattle back in the early noughties, where he found his real passion in electronic music.

It was when he made a further move to Berlin, the city he calls home today, that Ford really settled into making the kind of sounds we know him for today. Working under the name Bruno Pronsato, he was picked up by Hello? Repeat, Telegraph, Lick My Deck, and many other bastions of the genre. Through a lengthy, ever-expanding back-catalog of  adventurous dancefloor material, he’s established himself as a musician with one ear for delicate subtleties, and another for stirring groove and rhythms.

When he’s not alone in the studio, he’s working collaboratively with other like-minded producers—with Sammy Dee as Half Hawaii, Daze Maxim as The Others, or Ninca Leece as Public Lover. Most recently, he has teamed up with Benjamin Myers (one half of Benoit & Sergio) as NDF, for the Cruel Is The Color EP—which is scheduled for September 30 release. The pair have shared a studio together in the German capital for a couple of years, though rarely spent time together there due to clashing schedules; after one lunch date, the pair had bashed out the EP’s title track in around 30 minutes flat, with Ford manning the synths and percussion. 

That kind of ability to knock out quality, varied productions in next to no time only comes with real experience—something Ford has plenty of. It’s on that note, that we hand over to the man himself, to guide us through the essentials that make that exact studio such a fruitful outlet.

Bruno Pronsato's Romance Club moves to its new home Renate on September 1.

JOMOX XBASE 888

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This is one of the first machines that I bought after my move to Berlin. At first it was used for my live sets pretty exclusively. I felt in the beginning that it wasn’t much of studio machine—the percussion wasn’t as delicate as I usually liked in my recording sessions. I remember having a discussion with Mathew Jonson about it years ago, around 2007: he explained some little secrets to me that he used to make it a bit more delicate in the studio, so I started using it more and more, mainly for modulating kick drums. You have to really push it in the DAW to really get the full effect.

However, in a live environment it tends to sound great as it is. It’s a bit of a monster to carry around to shows. My old back is starting to dread seeing it sitting in my bag for a show. In fact, it’s been a minute since I’ve taken it out. It’s an incredibly fussy machine. It likes to switch to Japanese in the middle of a set, or when trying to pull up kits—but it’s been worth every penny. It needs a tune up and new OS, but still one of my favorites.

JOMOX MBASE 11

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Yet another Jomox product. I think anyone who knows my live sets or my recordings knows that this one has been integral to my kicks and often my basslines.

I used to use the MBase 01, before it was discontinued, but now I use the MBase 11—and this comes with a compressor, which I like more. It adds a bit more strength to my kicks in certain club settings, and this wasn’t possible with the 01 model. As far as kicks go, it’s a monster. It’s one of the few machines that can stand its ground after an over-compressed Traktor set (before I play live). It’s hard to match mastered volumes as a live act—but this little guy, as inexpensive as it is, always steps up the game.

Most important, for both of these machines, I really like the ability to mess with the LFO speeds of the kicks to make it a bit more strange—or more wobbly.

NORD G2

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The Nord actually belongs to Ninca Leece. I had used it in the past, years ago, but seriously got into this one because I was in the middle of doing my Archangel project (my more downtempo alias signed to Foom) live at Berghain Kantine and wanted to bring a more live feeling to the show. I pretty much used it because I wanted a keyboard that was stand alone and wasn’t reliant on a computer.

As I dug into it to build some patches, I slowly started realizing that it was a much bigger beast than I had expected. The patches we built were amazing and incredibly weird for the show—far weirder than what was on the album. It’s my go-to for digital modular and is an amazing tool for studio as well as live.

Metric Halo MIO 2882

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Where would I be without my Metric Halo MIO 2882? I’ve had it my entire musical career. Its analog/digital conversion is impeccable. I’ve used it for almost every show and from everything from mic’ing a grand piano to playing at a bar in Mexico. It’s been almost twelve years in the studio and all over the world. It’s a work horse and almost indestructible. I’ve only had to repair it once so far.

Vodka Soda

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Last, but not least, is the vodka soda. It’s for the refreshing moment after coming to terms with what you’ve done—a celebration of sorts. It actually takes a lot for me to dig a track that I’ve made, and this is the sort of final edit that I go to—a congratulatory slap on the back, if you will!

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